This initiative, which complements the Repair & Leasing Scheme, is also designed to assist local authorities and AHBs (approved housing bodies) to harness the accommodation potential that exists in certain vacant properties for social housing use. As with the Repair & Leasing Scheme, the use of the Buy & Renew Scheme is subject to the suitability of the property for social housing, the condition of the property and the cost of remediation.
The scheme funds local authorities and AHBs (the latter using the ‘Capital Assistance Scheme for priority housing categories) to purchase and renew housing units in need of remediation, and make them available for social housing use. There is real potential for local authorities to acquire properties that are vacant and where there is a need for social housing, to remediate them and make them available to those on the waiting list.
There is real challenge in this work: renewing vacant and derelict premises can be difficult and costly. As well as targeting areas of social housing need for this initiative, local authorities also work to sustain an appropriate ‘tenure mix’ within communities and will have regard to this when implementing the Buy & Renew Scheme.
Local authorities and AHBs have been buying second hand housing in recent years to achieve ‘early delivery’ of new social housing units. This new initiative will allow them to focus on an area of acquisitions that is more likely to avoid direct competition with private purchasers for good quality housing stock. It also taps into a potential supply of housing that is sitting vacant.
The complementarity between the Buy & Renew Initiative and Repair & Leasing means that local authorities/AHBs can approach owners of vacant, privately-owned houses in need of repair/remediation, with the option to either lease/repair the property, or to buy and repair/remediate it.